Samsung Beats Apple to Top J.D. Power Tablet Satisfaction Study

J.D. Power: Weird. Samsung didn’t score top marks in any category while Apple (iPad) scored top marks in all categories (Performance, East of Use, Physical Design, Tablet Features) except for Cost where it received 2 out of 5. And it is only the Cost category where Samsung (4 out of 5) beat Apple. There is only one explanation: J.D. Power considers Cost the most important category and is heavily weighted over the others.

Update 2013.11.01: via John Gruber. Matthew Panzarino:

So I reached out to JD Power and spoke to Kirk Parsons, senior director of telecommunications services. What he told us wasn’t too surprising, but it may help clear up some of the confusion. First off, the “power circle” chart that’s being widely circulated is simply a visual tool, and not representative of the actual scores given to the brands evaluated in its survey.

The power circle chart showed Apple winning handily in four categories, including performance, ease of use, physical design and tablet features. Only one category showed a clear win for Samsung: cost. But most folks were a bit skeptical, considering that the JD Power report only weights cost as 16 percent of the overall score.

So the Cost category is weighted at 16 percent. To me that doesn’t seem large enough to offset Samsung’s poorer performance in the other four categories.

Cracking the Apple Trap

Catherine Rampell, The New York Times:

At first, I thought it was my imagination. Around the time the iPhone 5S and 5C were released, in September, I noticed that my sad old iPhone 4 was becoming a lot more sluggish. The battery was starting to run down much faster, too. But the same thing seemed to be happening to a lot of people who, like me, swear by their Apple products. When I called tech analysts, they said that the new operating system (iOS 7) being pushed out to existing users was making older models unbearably slow. Apple phone batteries, which have a finite number of charges in them to begin with, were drained by the new software.

The iPhone 4 is about three years old. Assuming the battery was cycled 300 times—once every three days—the iPhone 4 hit its expected lifetime. iOS 7 didn’t drain the battery, three years of use did. I happen to have my iPhone 4 and I haven’t seen any adverse effects of upgrading to iOS 7. It’s been a while since I’ve used it on a regular basis, so my observations might not be as objective as it could be, but my iPhone 4 feels new again. That’s just me. (My iPhone 3G and my original iPhone are still alive too, and it would be really cool to see iOS 7 work one those!) The fact of the matter is your iPhone’s battery will eventually go kaput. And that goes for any battery in any smartphone. Replacing the battery for the iPhone 4 and 4S is fairly easy, and it’s cheap. Check out iFixit’s video.

The Great Apple Lull

Dan Frommer:

But where Apple has disappointed recently is in novelty, or surprise. Perhaps this is unfair, but it’s real. Apple became the company that delivered “new”. People got used to hearing about new stuff all the time — iPod nanos, iPhones, MacBook Airs, iPads — and now it seems like it’s been a while.

It seems like it’s been a while? No, it has been a while. But there might be a good reason. Maybe, in the world of computing, what we have now—iPod, iPhone, iPad, Mac—is good enough. But there was a time when these categories weren’t very good at all. Let’s take MP3 players for example. The way you got MP3s, the way you managed MP3s, the way you copied those into MP3 players sucked and there was suckiness to be made better. Apple did that with the iPod. The iPhone did the same thing to smartphones, and the iPad to tablets. What is really sucky now? Figure that out and that’s probably what Apple’s working on.

I’d say give it another year. Tim Cook has now been chumming the water for a while, and if Apple was just going to keep rolling out iterative updates to the iPhone and iPad until we all fell asleep, it’d be a waste to keep bringing up the whole “new categories” line.

Another year it is.

Samsung Galaxy Round: Not Just Marketing Gimmick

Raymond Soneira:

Introducing a slightly curved cylindrically concave screen is a very important and major innovation in smartphone display technology—very far from being a marketing gimmick as has been widely reported. The Galaxy Round screen curvature is very subtle, just 0.10 inches away from flat, which is similar to the slight curvature in a handheld magnifying mirror. But that small curvature is the key to a series of optical effects that result in significantly reducing interference from reflected ambient light by a large factor. It substantially improves screen readability, image contrast, color accuracy, and overall picture quality, but can also increase the running time on battery because the screen brightness and display power can be lowered due to the reduced light interference from ambient light reflections.

I’ll be honest: I thought the flexed display in the Galaxy Round was manufactured merely because it was possible to do so, and without any thought to practical use. It seems I was wrong. There are significant benefits to how we experience the display.

iPad mini with Retina Display Might Be Supply Limited in Fourth Quarter

The Verge: The iPad mini with retina display will be launched later in November, and you should plan on camping out if you really want one. In today’s earnings call Tim Cook was cautious about availability of the iPad mini with retina display during the fourth quarter calendar year: “… it’s not clear if we’ll have enough.” Not being clear if Apple will have enough of a new product has always been the case and so Cook might simply be stating the obvious, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the retina display itself is the bottleneck.

iPhone Touchscreen Accuracy

via John Gruber. Nick Arnott:

This test is performed by a robot which has an artificial finger that performs hundreds of precise taps across the entire display. The location of the tap is compared against where the device registered the tap. If the actual location and registered location are within 1mm of each other, the tap is displayed as a green dot–a pass. If the actual location and registered location differ by 1mm or more, then tap is displayed as a red dot–a failure.

Both the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c had lots of red dots. The Samsung Galaxy S3 had very little red dots and lots of green dots. But Arnott observes a peculiarity:

I haven’t been able to find official documentation on this, but I think this behavior is intentional compensation being done by Apple. Have you ever tried tapping on an iPad or iPhone while it’s upside-down to you, like when you’re showing something to a friend and you try tapping while they’re holding the device? It seems nearly impossible. The device never cooperates. If the iPhone is compensating for taps based on assumptions about how it is being held and interacted with, this would make total sense. If you tap on a device while it’s upside-down, not only would you not receive the benefit of the compensation, but it would be working against you. Tapping on the device, the iPhone would assume you meant to tap higher, when in reality, you’re upside down and likely already tapping higher than you mean to, resulting in you completely missing what you’re trying to tap.

Now I get why iPhone doesn’t allow you to flip it upside down. I agree; I believe this offset in iOS touch recognition was deliberately designed this way by Apple. (I wouldn’t be surprised if the Galaxy S3 or S4 in a subsequent update performs just as poorly as the iPhone 5s or 5c did on this test.)

Apple Presents Video About Campus 2

The Verge: The video starts around the 3:30 mark. It’s good to hear Steve Jobs’ voice. A couple of other notables: 100% powered by renewable energy, largest solar installation for a corporation, from mostly concrete (20% landscape) to 80% landscape populated with lots of plants and trees that are California native. Apple expects to break ground for Campus 2 later this year.